James Lasley talks us through what he thinks will change at Manchester City when Pep Guardiola comes in:
Since Sheikh Mansour took over Manchester City in 2008, there has been nothing but progress for the Blues. The club quickly rose from decades of mediocrity and won the league with a memorable 93rd minute goal by Sergio Aguero back in 2012. Just two years later, City won the league again. Their growth soon expanded beyond England as the Cityzens steadily improved in Europe. Year by year, they gradually make it a little further. First escaping group stage, then the round of 16, and now with the opportunity this year to reach the final, Manchester City are finally European heavyweights deserving the respect of fans, teams, and pundits alike.
This summer, a new face will arrive at the Etihad. The decorated Pep Guardiola will take the helm, and likely lead City to further greatness. With his arrival, rumors of a mass overhaul have been sparked. Regardless of whether that is true, it is well known that some players won’t make it under the reign of Guardiola. So, throughout this series, we will analyze each player and determine who will make the cut and who won’t.
Reasoning: Joe Hart is the longest serving player in the current Manchester City squad. Signing in 2006 from Shrewsbury Town for just over a half-million pounds, Hart has been at the core of this team for years. In that time, he has played 342 games, holds the record for most Golden Gloves won (4), and is on course to win it again this year as he is tied with Schmeichel at 15 clean sheets.
In addition to his excellent performance in the league, Hart’s heroics in Europe have made him a fan’s favorite. Stopping penalties from the likes of Messi and Ibrahimovic, in addition to producing world class saves on a regular basis, illustrates just how responsible he has been for much of City’s Champions League success.
Joe Hart’s homegrown status is a major factor as well. Manchester City walk close to the line when it comes to the required number of home grown players in their squad. If Hart were to leave, another Englishman would need to be signed in order to fulfill requirements. Joe Hart is currently England’s number one goalkeeper as well. With 57 caps under his belt, he has only lost 9 matches while in goal.
Hart’s loyalty to Manchester City is another virtue of his. He loves the fans, and the fans love him. It is not often that Joe Hart doesn’t go over to the City faithful and applaud them. On multiple occasions, he has even given his shirt to a young fan. Even if another keeper is brought in to contend for his starting place, Hart has made it clear that he intends to stay at the club he loves and fight for his place.
His only flaw is his passing. At times he has lapses in concentration and his passes either go out of bounds or to an opposing player. Guardiola is a strong believer in using all 11 players on the pitch, so this could pose a threat to Hart’s starting position. Additionally, Pep likes the “sweeper-keeper” style. Manuel Neuer is a prime example of this. Whether or not Joe Hart can transform his game will be a major factor in his role at the club next season. Hart is quick off his line, and certainly isn’t afraid to put in a crunching tackle. Under the right coaching, I believe he is more than capable of adapting to Guardiola’s style of play.
Reasoning: While Caballero’s heroics in the Capital One Cup Final have made him a City legend for years to come, that won’t be enough to save his career at Manchester City. He has been a fair backup keeper in his time at the Etihad, but that isn’t what Guardiola is after. From previous interviews, one can speculate that he intends to bring competition to the keeper position. This, he believes, will push both keepers to consistently perform their best, due to the lack of room for complacency. Caballero, simply put, lacks the quality to challenge Joe Hart for the starting position. Rumors of City proposing a deal for Ter Stegen provides further evidence to support such speculation. While whether or not the Cityzen’s actually manage to sign the Barcelona man is left to be seen, Guardiola’s intentions are clear: two first team quality keepers challenging for the starting spot. Unfortunately for Willy Caballero, I don’t see him fitting into that plan,
Verdict: No Longer Playing
Reasoning: Richard Wright has been a Manchester City player since 2012. In the four years since then, he has never played in a competitive match. Wright serves as a 3rd place goalkeeper just incase injuries prevent Hart and Caballero from playing. Wright had a decent career before moving to City with 448 appearances between 10 different clubs in addition to his two England caps. Wright’s true roles at the club consist of fulfilling the homegrown requirements and allowing youth keeper Angus Gunn to continue developing in the EDS rather than sitting the first team bench. Pellegrini believes promoting Gunn to the first team would stunt his development. This is mostly do to the lack of playing time he would recieve. At the moment Gunn is playing on a weekly basis. However, Guardiola favours promoting a youth keeper to 3rd string. While that would certainly mean an end to Wright’s time as a player for the blue, it may not necessarily be the end of his time at the Etihad. Four years of not playing has served as a transitional period preparing him for coaching. Don’t be surprised if you see Richard Wright next season as part of the coaching staff.
Disagree with any of my predictions? Feel free to comment yours below, and be sure to tune in next week when we discuss which center backs will be in Guardiola’s team next season!